Tuesday, 19 September 2017

LJC S2 Part 10: Invocation and Confession of Jesus

In the last posts in our second series on Larry Hurtado's book, we looked at Jesus' role in the prayer of the earliest stages of the Christian movement, firstly with a summary of Hurtado's own content, and secondarily with my own concerns of mapping out a first-century form of trinitarianism, I wanted to highlight the Holy Spirit's perceived central place in the religious life of the community, including prayer.

Today is somewhat a continuation of the theme of prayer as Hurtado opens a section he calls Invocation and Confession of Jesus. On "invocation", you can practically hear the Old Testament thunder rumbling already (at least I do, as my work on my commentary on Joel continues slowly behind the scenes). Let's see, though what Hurtado's key points are in this section.

One great piece of textual evidence for dating this back to a pre-Greek phase (Aramaic), is the invocation of Maranatha, that is preserved in 1 Corinthians 16:22. Hurtado points out the lack of any need for Paul to translate this saying to his Corinthian recipients. He may overstate things by assigning this lack of need to translate to its place in a super-early liturgy.

On p. 141, Hurtado dips slightly into Christian-mode, I think, when he states: Such a corporate cultic appeal to Jesus simply has no analogy as a regular feature of any other known group connected to the jewish religious tradition of the time [ok so far], and it, too, indicates, public devotional life of early Christians in a way that is otherwise reserved for God. My emphasis. I get fidgety every time someone says that some kind of possessive usage of Lord - e.g. Come, Our Lord! - was reserved for God. We have frequently noted on this blog, and in part at the instigation of a couple of blog posts made by Hurtado himself (e.g. here) that the Septuagint translators' opting for the anarthrous LORD as a translation for the tetragrammaton of Yahweh, God's personal name given in Hebrew, is not compatible with "my, your, their, our" etc. All such forms of language are essentially with reference to a title, something which Yahweh was not. Further, the translators (the first Alexandrian wave in any case) were careful to maintain that distinction via the anarthrous use. For newcomers to the blog, what we are talking about here is something a little akin to "Pharoah" or "Caesar". It was a bit like a title, but since it was so attached to this one individual, LORD (as opposed to the LORD) functioned in a similar way (one exception was discussed on the blog - "LORD of hosts", which you can read more about in The Name of [the] LORD if you would like to find out more).

So is Hurtado about to cut some Kyrios corners here? Actually, he is headed to a well-known (to the first century Jews) text of 1 Enoch, which is an eschatological reference reframed to have Jesus coming with all his holy ones: And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly. (Ch. 1v9) That is certainly extremely interesting that God's visitation in judgement would be reframed via his glorified Messiah, but it's perhaps a little strange to paint this systematic invocation or programmatic inclusion starting here. But we quickly arrive at the more familiar references of Romans 10:9-13 and its reference to Joel 2:32. Here we truly have something phenomenal, which I won't have time to expand on in today's post, but LORD's anarthrous usage is applied to or finds fulfilment in Jesus ( τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου ) !

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